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Program for high school seniors provides earn-and-learn opportunity

The Upper Peninsula Construction Council is seeking current high school juniors around the UP to participate in an innovative new program called Construction Connect UP for the 2023-24 school year. 


“CCUP gives qualified high school seniors an outstanding academic education while instilling in them an understanding of the world of work and the skills necessary for competing in the construction industry,” said UPCC Executive Director Mike Smith.


The UPCC collaborated with its signatory contractors & UP building trades unions, UP Michigan Works, Delta-Schoolcraft ISD, Dickinson-Iron ISD and Marquette-Alger Regional Education Services Agency to develop a program that is skill-based, labor- and industry-approved and directly linked to real workplace situations. Students' schedules will need to allow for 2-3 hours in the mornings or afternoon for working, learning – and earning $13 an hour – on job sites.


CCUP is operating as a pilot program for the second semester of this school year, with three students from Escanaba and one student from Kingsford. In May, students who successfully complete the program may be “drafted” into building trades apprenticeships.


The full program will follow for the 2023-24 school year.  To qualify, students must at the time of the program’s start:

  • Be a high school senior at least 17 years old

  • Be enrolled in a certified CTE program

  • Have a driver’s license and reliable transportation

  • Pass a drug screen


“The demand for skilled construction workers is growing in the UP, with exciting projects like Billerud in Escanaba and the Soo Locks, and the renewable energy and electrification efforts coming in the future,” Smith said. “We are creating pathways for high school students to consider a wider variety of career options. In the union trades, you earn while you learn, and graduate debt free with a skill that can take you anywhere.”

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